It’s been great to have weekend sports back up and running in our country with no restrictions. I look overseas and see that many places have a complete ban on gatherings, their regional sports or have to continue social distancing; and I feel grateful that we get to do our normal.

This week in council we have the Operations and the Finance committee meetings.

In our Operations committee we are finally making a decision to action works on the Peel St toilets. In the past the community had given us feedback to retain the building, even if it wasn’t for a toilet, and the council made the decision to retain the building of the Peel St toilets. I wasn’t a fan of this idea, I thought the building should come down, as an unutilised building would be a waste of space and cost the ratepayers money to maintain. However, in the late 90s, council was taken to court over the Peel St toilets and the building became a Category 2 heritage building. So while it’s technically possible that we could go through a process to demolish, it would take ages, cost the ratepayers and the outcome would not be guaranteed.

Therefore we have decisions in front of us and $400k allocated to action those decisions. The toilet needs the roof improved, earthquake strengthening, and a modern toilet facility needs to be installed for people shopping in the CBD, coast visitors and bar patrons at night. In my opinion, the works need to be done in that order to make our dollar stretch; do the essential safety work first, then work on the modern facility. Speed. Let’s do the work before it costs us more.

I want to see us apply the same ‘speed’ mindset to the Olympic Pool.

When we first started discussing works on The Olympic Pool complex we asked our community about it’s aspirations. It was fantastic hearing the community voice. But then it became the consultation that didn’t end. Even after confirming our final plans, we still had more feedback coming forward about our pool. It started to become too long. Even for me, who has a reputation for being Mr Consultation.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved hearing all the wonderful feedback from our community, but the longer we wait to start working on the pool complex, the more costs will rise. The more the costs rise, the less pool we can buy for our community. There has already been a massive underspend on the pool historically, it has always been the community asset which has been bumped down to the latter part of council’s 10 year plan. Which is why I want to see us hit The Olympic Pool complex project with speed.

We owe it to the pool and this community to start working on that complex immediately to get the maximum amount of value out of every single dollar we are going to be given.

Where I want to see us put our energy is into managing the project with laser focus to ensure it comes in on time, on budget and to the requisite quality.

I appreciate that we are getting $40 million for our pool. The $40 million gives us the opportunity to refocus the budget we had allocated for the pool in our current long term plan in to other things, like wastewater, slash, landfill remediation, or debt reduction.

Which leads me to my last point, council will be going out to consult on our Long Term Plan soon. Please let us know what your priorities are. We will definitely be coming out to you, but please, make sure you make yourselves known to us.

Speed. Let’s do this work, and let’s do it well.

As always, proud to serve you Tairawhiti.